FHS gives gifts to middle school

A group of children at Fairfield Middle School celebrated an especially merry Christmas thanks to the generosity of their peers at Fairfield High School.

One peer in particular took the lead in providing gifts for students who might not otherwise have them. FHS Junior Abyni Garner recalled how she and her classmates had gotten gifts for the middle school teachers a few years ago, and she wanted to do the same thing for their high school teachers.

She broached the subject with FHS principal Brian Stone and assistant principal Tim Bartels. They appreciated her thoughtfulness, but suggested a different group of recipients for the presents: middle school students.

FHS special education instructor Staci Wright is president and founding member of the African Violet Foundation, which assists students and their families from Fairfield, Pekin and Van Buren school districts. When she learned Garner wanted to open a gift-giving drive, she contacted FMS assistant principal Matt Jones to work out the details.

Wright said she doesn?t want credit for helping, saying ?I was only the middleman,? to which Bartels responded, ?What?s the best part of the Oreo??

FMS Guidance Counselor Jay Thompson interviewed a select group of 16 students about what they wanted for Christmas. Each kid got to make two requests. Those requests were relayed to Garner, who made the requests into ornaments to hang on the Christmas Tree in the FHS Central Office.

Each ornament corresponded to one of the children?s wishes. Their identity was kept secret.

?People were so eager to give that they were taking the ornaments as I was hanging them,? Garner said.

Garner sent out a mass email and made posters to hang around the school advertising the program. Within about nine school hours since she hung the ornaments, they were all spoken for. Those who took them agreed to fulfill that child?s request and bring the wrapped present back to the high school, which Garner and school officials delivered Dec. 21.

?Abyni is so great about extending caring beyond herself,? said Bartels. ?She?s chipper all the time. We?re extremely proud of her, and we wanted to make sure she was recognized for this.?

This is not even the first fundraiser Garner has organized this year.

In the fall, she organized one for the football cheerleaders involving ?flocking flamingos.? A person could pay the cheerleaders to put a bunch of pink flamingos in someone else?s yard, and then that person would either pay to put them in another yard, or pay for ?insurance? so they wouldn?t get flocked again. Garner said the cheerleaders used the money from the fundraiser to buy socks, bags and other supplies.